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ISO 14001- Environmental

IS0 14000 - Introduction

In the globalization world, the environmental issues seem to be one of the most important topics. The pollution created in any manner such as air emission, effluent, land contamination, etc., have several impacts to people throughout the world. Upon this pressure, the International Organization for Standardization has developed the environmental management standards which is known as the "ISO 14000 Series"
After the rapid acceptance of ISO 14001, and the increase of environmental standards around the world, ISO assessed the need for international environmental management standards. They formed the Strategic Advisory Group on the Environment (SAGE) in 1991, to consider whether such standards could serve to:

  • Promote a common approach to environmental management similar to quality management;
  • Enhance organizations' ability to attain and measure improvements in environmental performance; and
  • Facilitate trade and remove trade barriers
  • To encourage environmentally sustainable economic activity and to help companies save money from environmental mismanagement.

In 1992, SAGE's recommendations created a new committee, TC 207, for international environmental management standards. The committee, and its sub-committees include representatives from industry, standards organizations, government and environmental organizations from many countries.
The series of IS014000 standards are designed to cover:

  • environmental management systems
  • environmental auditing
  • environmental performance evaluation
  • environmental labeling
  • life-cycle assessment
  • environmental aspects in product standards

ISO 14000 essentials

The ISO 14000 family addresses various aspects of environmental management. The very first two standards, ISO 14001:2015 and ISO 14004:2004 deal with environmental management systems (EMS). ISO 14001:2015 provides the requirements for an EMS and ISO 14004:2004 gives general EMS guidelines. The other standards and guidelines in the family address specific environmental aspects, including: labeling, performance evaluation, life cycle analysis, communication and auditing.

An ISO 14001:2015 -based EMS

An EMS meeting the requirements of ISO 14001:2015 is a management tool enabling an organization of any size or type to:
  • identify and control the environmental impact of its activities, products or services, and to
  • improve its environmental performance continually, and to
  • implement a systematic approach to setting environmental objectives and targets, to achieving these and to demonstrating that they have been achieved.

How it works

ISO 14001:2015 does not specify levels of environmental performance. If it specified levels of environmental performance, they would have to be specific to each business activity and this would require a specific EMS standard for each business. That is not the intention.
ISO has many other standards dealing with specific environmental issues. The intention of ISO 14001:2015 is to provide a framework for a holistic, strategic approach to the organization's environmental policy, plans and actions.
ISO 14001:2015 gives the generic requirements for an environmental management system. The underlying philosophy is that whatever the organization's activity, the requirements of an effective EMS are the same.
This has the effect of establishing a common reference for communicating about environmental management issues between organizations and their customers, regulators, the public and other stakeholders.
Because ISO 14001:2015 does not lay down levels of environmental performance, the standard can to be implemented by a wide variety of organizations, whatever their current level of environmental maturity. However, a commitment to compliance with applicable environmental legislation and regulations is required, along with a commitment to continual improvement – for which the EMS provides the framework.

The EMS standards

ISO 14004:2004 provides guidelines on the elements of an environmental management system and its implementation, and discusses principal issues involved.
ISO 14001:2015 specifies the requirements for such an environmental management system. Fulfilling these requirements demands objective evidence which can be audited to demonstrate that the environmental management system is operating effectively in conformity to the standard.

What can be achieved

ISO 14001:2015 is a tool that can be used to meet internal objectives:

  • provide assurance to management that it is in control of the organizational processes and activities having an impact on the environment
  • assure employees that they are working for an environmentally responsible organization.

ISO 14001:2015 can also be used to meet external objectives:

  • provide assurance on environmental issues to external stakeholders – such as customers, the community and regulatory agencies
  • comply with environmental regulations
  • support the organization's claims and communication about its own environmental policies, plans and actions
  • provides a framework for demonstrating conformity via suppliers' declarations of conformity, assessment of conformity by an external stakeholder - such as a business client - and for certification of conformity by an independent certification body.

Other Benefits

  • Improved Control of Operations Impacting the Environment - Reduced Risk
  • Provides a tool to identify and act on cost reduction initiatives related to pollution prevention and waste reduction.
  • Marketing Potential - Customer perceive organizations with ISO 14001:2015 registration as being more responsible to the environment, creating customer and community goodwill.
  • Continuous Improvement- ISO 14000 provides a tool to identify and act on cost takeout and other improvement opportunities. ISO 14000 forces the Management Team to be more responsible for continuous improvement
  • Contribute to the morale and high level and esteem
  • Expedite the safe, successful induction of personnel,
  • Assist in the induction of new personnel or cross functional training,
  • Demonstrate conformance to others such as stakeholders... and Demonstrate Environmental responsibility
  • Any activities of each organization may cause the environmental aspects and impacts such as noise, dust, waste, contaminants in manufacturing process and un-effectively resources consumption in servicing. These can be minimized by implementing EMS.


Step 1: Awareness & Training
Program is to have an effective Training Program The goal of this training shall help management/ Core team members to develop an understanding of the standards

Step 2: Gap Analysis-
The goal of the gap analysis is to quickly obtain on overall assessment of the company's current environmental management &  Safety activities in comparison to the ISO 14001:2015 standard requirements

Step 3: Core requirements Development:-
ISO 14000 requires that a facility or site establish and maintain a procedure to identify environmental aspects of activities, products and services "... in order to determine those which have or can have significant impacts on the environment" (ISO 14000, Section 4.3).

  • Review of the site operations to prepare a list of categories for activities, products and
  • Interviews with appropriate personnel and a site reconnaissance to identify the facility's
    various operational units that interact with the environment.
  • Review of    documented corporate    environmental policies and related    documents (performance standards, procedures, and compliance management tools) to assist in determining the facility's environmental character.
  • Preparation of tables which presented the facility's aspects and associated impacts, sorted by activity, product, or service.
  • These significant aspects to be used to build objectives, targets, and the ISO 14000 program as a whole.

It is up to the company to apply appropriate criteria and determine significance through a framework which makes sense to the business, the nature of the environmental aspects and impact risks, regulatory and legal liability factors, and the interests of the community and other stakeholders.

Step 4: Legal Compliance Assessment & Development
"The organization shall establish and maintain a documented procedure for periodically evaluating compliance with relevant environmental legislation and regulations." Also, the standard requires a commitment to regulatory compliance (Policy, Section 4.2).

Step 5: Documentation development & Training on implementation & Use.
Based on the assessment and findings a comprehensive documentation (Environmental Management System Manual) shall be developed as per the requirements of the standard.

  • Develop Environmental Policy
  • Objectives, Targets, and Development of Environmental Management Programs
  • Operational and Management Procedures, and Work Instructions
  • Operational records namely,  process monitoring records, pertinent contractor and supplier records, incident reports, records of tests for emergency preparedness records of applicable legal requirements, records of significant environmental aspects, records of environmental meetings, environmental performance information, legal compliance records, and communications with interested parties.

Step 6: Implementation Assistance –
This is the actual deployment of the program into the organization. This step is predominantly being performed by the company staff as part of normal operational responsibilities. This task is usually process-specific, involving small groups addressing particular items or aspects. Also included is the introduction of new or revised work instructions. This task's goal is to ensure that the system, as documented, is in place throughout the organization. It is important during implementation to synchronize processes and personnel with procedures in place. Having the business units and all employees work together to develop the system led to consistency throughout the company and a more effective ISO 14000  program

Step 7: Conducting Internal Audits –
Internal audits are being conducted to assess the preparedness to face the external audits and are coordinated for efficiency. The intent of the audits was to assess the program and its conformance to the ISO 14000 standard.

Step 8: Take Corrections and Corrective Action-
In this task, non conformances identified during the auditing process are corrected. The company is addressing the non conformances identified through the internal audits, monitoring measurement procedures, and other information sources and is taking the appropriate action. Corrective action in this context refers to improvements in the ISO 14000  program.

Step 9: Assistance during Pre-& Final Assessment Audit –
To assist in the certification process and take necessary corrections, corrective actions on the audit findings.

Step 10: Continuous Improvement-
This is the company's ongoing task and involves researching other systems, benchmarking, developing strategies to achieve goals, establishing future corporate requirements, and linking them to environmental management issues.

A brief history of ISO 14001 environmental management systems

The concept of an environmental management system evolved in the early nineties and its origin can be traced back to 1972, when the United Nations organised a Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was launched (Corbett & Kirsch, 2001). These early initiatives led to the establishment of the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) and the adoption of the Montreal Protocol and Basel Convention.
In 1992, the first Earth Summit was held in Rio-de-Janeiro (Jiang & Bansal, 2001), which served to generate a global commitment to the environment (RMIT University). In the same year, BSI Group published the world's first environmental management systems standard, BS 7750.[1] This supplied the template for the development of the ISO 14000 series in 1996, by the International Organization for Standardization, which has representation from committees all over the world (ISO) (Clements 1996, Brorson & Larsson, 1999). As of 2010, ISO 14001 is now used by at least 223 149 organizations in 159 countries and economies.[2]

Development of the ISO 14000 series

The ISO 14000 family includes most notably the ISO 14001 standard, which represents the core set of standards used by organizations for designing and implementing an effective environmental management system. Other standards included in this series are ISO 14004, which gives additional guidelines for a good environmental management system, and more specialized standards dealing with specific aspects of environmental management. The major objective of the ISO 14000 series of norms is "to promote more effective and efficient environmental management in organizations and to provide useful and usable tools - ones that are cost effective, system-based, flexible and reflect the best organizations and the best organizational practices available for gathering, interpreting and communicating environmentally relevant information".[3]
Unlike previous environmental regulations, which began with command and control approaches, later replaced with ones based on market mechanisms, ISO 14000 was based on a voluntary approach to environmental regulation (Szymanski & Tiwari 2004). The series includes the ISO 14001 standard, which provides guidelines for the establishment or improvement of an EMS. The standard shares many common traits with its predecessor ISO 14001, the international standard of quality management (Jackson 1997), which served as a model for its internal structure (National Academy Press 1999) and both can be implemented side by side. As with ISO 14001, ISO 14000 acts both as an internal management tool and as a way of demonstrating a company’s environmental commitment to its customers and clients (Boiral 2007).
Prior to the development of the ISO 14000 series, organizations voluntarily constructed their own EMS systems, but this made comparisons of environmental effects between companies difficult and therefore the universal ISO 14000 series was developed. An EMS is defined by ISO as: “part of the overall management system, that includes organizational structure, planning activities, responsibilities, practices, procedures, processes and resources for developing, implementing, achieving and maintaining the environmental policy’ (ISO 1996 cited in Federal Facilities Council Report 1999).

ISO 14001 standard

The standard is not an environmental management system as such and therefore does not dictate absolute environmental performance requirements (National Academy Press 1999), but serves instead as a framework to assist organizations in developing their own environmental management system (RMIT University). ISO 14001 can be integrated with other management functions and assists companies in meeting their environmental and economic goals.
ISO 14001, as with other ISO 14000 standards, is voluntary (IISD 2010), with its main aim to assist companies in continually improving their environmental performance, whilst complying with any applicable legislation. Organizations are responsible for setting their own targets and performance measures, with the standard serving to assist them in meeting objectives and goals and the subsequent monitoring and measurement of these (IISD 2010). This means that two organizations that have completely different measures and standards of environmental performance, can both comply with ISO 14001 requirements (Federal Facilities Council Report 1999).
The standard can be applied to a variety of levels in the business, from organizational level, right down to the product and service level (RMIT university). Rather than focusing on exact measures and goals of environmental performance, the standard highlights what an organization needs to do to meet these goals (IISD 2010). Success of the system is very dependant on commitment from all levels of the organization, especially top management (Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand 2004), who need to be actively involved in the development, implementation and maintenance of the environmental management system ( 2010). In 2008 there were an estimated 188 000 companies from 155 countries, certified as ISO 14001 compliant ( 2010)

ISO 14001 is known as a generic management system standard, meaning that it is applicable to any size and type of organisation, product or service, in any sector of activity and can accommodate diverse socio-cultural and geographic conditions (Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand 2004). All standards are periodically reviewed by ISO and new ones issued (Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand 2004).

Basic principles and methodology

The fundamental principle and overall goal of the ISO 14001 standard, is the concept of continual improvement (Federal Facilities Council Report 1999). ISO 14001 is based on the Plan-Do-Check-Act methodology (Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand 2004) which has been expanded to include 17 elements, grouped into five phases that relate to Plan-Do-Check-Act; Environmental Policy, Planning, Implementation & Operation, Checking & Corrective Action and lastly Management Review (Martin 1998).

Plan – establish objectives and processes required

Prior to implementing ISO 14001, an initial review or gap analysis of the organisation’s processes and products is recommended, to assist in identifying all elements of the current operation and if possible future operations, that may interact with the environment, termed environmental aspects (Martin 1998). Environmental aspects can include both direct, such as those used during manufacturing and indirect, such as raw materials (Martin 1998). This review assists the organisation in establishing their environmental objectives, goals and targets, which should ideally be measurable; helps with the development of control and management procedures and processes and serves to highlight any relevant legal requirements, which can then be built into the policy (Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand 2004).

Do – implement the processes

During this stage the organization identifies the resources required and works out those members of the organisation responsible for the EMS’ implementation and control (Martin 1998). This includes documentation of all procedures and processes; including operational and documentation control, the establishment of emergency procedures and responses, and the education of employees, to ensure they can competently implement the necessary processes and record results (Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand 2004). Communication and participation across all levels of the organisation, especially top management is a vital part of the implementation phase, with the effectiveness of the EMS being dependant on active involvement from all employees (Federal Facilities Council Report 1999).

Check – measure and monitor the processes and report results

During the check stage, performance is monitored and periodically measured to ensure that the organisation’s environmental targets and objectives are being met (Martin 1998). In addition, internal audits are regularly conducted to ascertain whether the EMS itself is being implemented properly and whether the processes and procedures are being adequately maintained and monitored (Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand 2004).

Act – take action to improve performance of EMS based on results

After the checking stage, a regular planned management review is conducted to ensure that the objectives of the EMS are being met, the extent to which they are being met, that communications are being appropriately managed and to evaluate changing circumstances, such as legal requirements, in order to make recommendations for further improvement of the system (Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand 2004). These recommendations are then fed back into the planning stage to be implemented into the EMS moving forward.

Continual Improvement Process

The core requirement of a continual improvement process (CIP) is different from the one known from quality management systems. CIP in ISO 14001 has three dimensions (Gastl, 2009):

  • Expansion: More and more business areas get covered by the implemented EMS.
  • Enrichment: More and more activities, products, processes, emissions, resources etc. get managed by the implemented EMS.
  • Upgrading: An improvement of the structural and organizational framework of the EMS, as well as an accumulation of know-how in dealing with business related environmental issues.

Overall, the CIP-concept expects the organization to gradually move away from merely operational environmental measures towards a strategic approach on how to deal with environmental challenges.


ISO 14001 was developed primarily to assist companies in reducing their environmental impact, but in addition to an improvement in environmental standards and performance, organizations can reap a number of economic benefits including higher conformance with legislative and regulatory requirements (Sheldon 1997) by utilizing the ISO standard. Firstly by minimizing the risk of regulatory and environmental liability fines and improving an organization’s efficiency (Delmas 2001), leading to a reduction in waste and consumption of resources, operating costs can be reduced ( 2010). Secondly, as an internationally recognized standard, businesses operating in multiple locations across the globe can register as ISO 14001 compliant, eliminating the need for multiple registrations or certifications (Hutchens 2010). Thirdly there has been a push in the last decade by consumers, for companies to adopt stricter environmental regulations, making the incorporation of ISO 14001 a greater necessity for the long term viability of businesses (Delmas & Montiel 2009) and providing them with a competitive advantage against companies that do not adopt the standard (Potoki & Prakash, 2005). This in turn can have a positive impact on a company’s asset value (Van der Deldt, 1997) and can lead to improved public perceptions of the business, placing them in a better position to operate in the international marketplace (Potoki & Prakash 1997; Sheldon 1997). Finally it can serve to reduce trade barriers between registered businesses (Van der Deldt, 1997).
Organizations can significantly benefit from EMS implementation through the identification of large cleaner production projects (e.g. which can drastically cut electricity costs in manufacturing industries). ISO 14001 can be a very effective tool to identify these cost savings opportunities for some organizations. Some other organizations can falter in its planning, lack of senior management commitment and poor understanding of how it should be implemented and find themselves managing an ineffective EMS. Improvements that organizations can make include adequately planning their structure and allocating adequate resources, providing training, creating forums for discussion, setting measurable targets and working according to the philosophy of continuous improvement (Burden, 2010).

ISO 14001 Environmental Aspect Database

For ISO 14001 implementation, it is most important to identify and assess environmental aspects and impacts. Many organizations develop a list of environmental aspects and impacts and use it to conduct environmental controls and write environmental procedures. It also needs to be communicated within the organization as a means to create environmental awareness with staff. Some companies use an environmental aspect database instead of a long list because it can be searched more easily by staff to find their related environmental issues. It is a valuable tool for ISO 14001 implementation and you can try to obtain it from many government websites, industry associations or internet search.

List of ISO 14000 series standards

  • ISO 14001 Environmental management systems—Requirements with guidance for use
  • ISO 14004 Environmental management systems—General guidelines on principles, systems and support techniques
  • ISO 14015 Environmental assessment of sites and organizations
  • ISO 14020 series (14020 to 14025) Environmental labels and declarations
  • ISO 14031 Environmental performance evaluation—Guidelines
  • ISO 14040 series (14040 to 14049), Life Cycle Assessment, LCA, discusses pre-production planning and environment goal setting.
  • ISO 14050 terms and definitions.
  • ISO 14062 discusses making improvements to environmental impact goals.
  • ISO 14063 Environmental communication—Guidelines and examples
  • ISO 14064 Measuring, quantifying, and reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions.
  • ISO 19011 which specifies one audit protocol for both 14000 and 14001 series standards together. This replaces ISO 14011 meta-evaluation—how to tell if your intended regulatory tools worked. 19011 is now the only recommended way to determine this.

See also


^ ISO Press Release 25 October 2010
^ ISO 14000 essentials

  • Boiral, O 2007, ‘Corporate Greening Through ISO 14001: A Rational Myth?’, Organisation Science, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 127–146.
  • Brorson, T & Larsson, G 1999, Environmental Management: How to Implement an Environmental Management System within a Company or Other Organization, EMS AB, Stockholm.
  • Burden, L. 2010, How to up the EMS ante.
  • Clements, R.B 1996, Complete Guide to ISO 14000, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River.
  • Corbett, C J & Kirsch, DA 2001, ‘International Diffusion of ISO 14000
  • Certification’, Production and Operations Management, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 327–342.
  • Delmas, M 2001, ‘Stakeholders and Competitive Advantage: The Case of ISO 14001.’, Production and Operations Management, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 343–358.
  • Delmas, M & Montiel, I 2009, ‘Greening the Supply Chain: When Is Customer Pressure Effective?’, Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 171–201.
  • Federal Facilities Council Report 1999, Environmental Management Systems and ISO 14001, National Academy Press, Washington DC.
  • Gastl, R 2009, CIP in Environmental Management, English management summary of: Gastl, R 2009, Kontinuierliche Verbesserung im Umweltmanagement - die KVP-Forderung der ISO 14001 in Theorie und Unternehmenspraxis, 2nd Edition, vdf, Zurich-Switzerland
  • Hutchens, S, Using ISO 14001 or ISO 14001 to Gain a Competitive Advantage, Intertek white paper, viewed 10 September 2010
  • Jackson, S. L. 1997, ‘Monitoring and Measurement Systems for Implementing ISO 14001’, Environmental Quality Management, vol. 6, no. 3, pp 33–47
  • International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) 2010, ISO 14001, viewed 26 August 2010,
  • ISO 2007, The ISO survey of ISO 14001 and ISO 14000 Certifications: 16th cycle, ISO, Geneva.
  •, viewed 26 August 2010
  • Martin, R 1998, ISO 14001 Guidance Manual, National Centre for environmental decision-making research: Technical report, viewed 23 August 2010,
  • Potoski, M & Prakash, A 2005, ‘Green Clubs and Voluntary Governance: ISO 14001 and Firms’ Regulatory Compliance’, American Journal of Political Science, vol. 49, no. 2, pp. 235–248
  • RMIT University, Encyclopedia: ISO 14000 series, viewed 29 August 2010
  • heldon C. 1997, ISO 14001 and Beyond: Environmental Management Systems in the Real World, Prentice Hall, New York.
  • Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand 2004, Environmental management systems – Requirements with guidance for use.
  • Szymanski & Tiwari 2004, ‘ISO 14001 and the reduction of toxic emissions’, Journal of Economic Policy Reform, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 31–42.
  • Van der Veldt 1997, ‘Case Studies of ISO 14001: A New Business Guide For Global Environmental Protection.’, Environmental Quality Management, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 1–19.

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Consultants of Quality Foundation follow a Structured approach (Process flow diagram for System Development) for developing ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management Systems through consultancy and training services, involving all concerned personnel (Scope of Consultancy) there by developing the competence in personnel for documenting, implementing, maintaining and also aiming for continual improvement during and after completion of consultancy, training and handholding services.
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